One of my favorite things to do in the spring and summer is go to the farmers market, walk around and take it all in, and drink freshly made horchata.
At the farmers market, I load up on a ridiculous amount of seasonal fruits and vegetables.
My eyes are always bigger than my stomach and my refrigerator storage drawer.
The treat of the day is usually homemade horchata.
The local vendors offer more free samples than Costco.
They make everything from hibiscus punch to watermelon juice to mango salad…
…along with their fabulous homemade fresh horchata.
When I was in Mexico City last summer, I also had some amazing horchata from the markets and street food vendors.
This was a life-changing day. So incredibly powerful; a day I will never forget as long as I live. Some of the things I saw, oh boy.
There was so much to see and so much food to eat.
I started researching recipes and came across a Rick Bayless recipe for horchata.
It seems that most people make horchata with almonds but I generally prefer cashews to almonds because cashews are creamier, they’re more neutral-tasting, and they blend much better and more easily.
The blending part is key because I didn’t want to be bothered with straining this or bothering with a cheesecloth, which is why I used cashews.
The vanilla flavor was very pronounced and there was a hint of cinnamon present.
The horchata was sweet, creamy, milky, and I had to restrain from drinking about 19 ounces of horchata at once.
It’s that good and this is going to become a staple.
A Visual Guide
Put the cashews (or almonds) into the Vita-Mix or blender canister with rice, water, and a cinnamon stick and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, remove the cinnamon stick, add sweetener and vanilla…
Blend, blend, blend…
And try not to drink the whole batch at once.
Refrigerate excess (if you mange to have any and haven’t drank it all directly from the Vita-Mix canister).
I was classier than that.
I used a straw and a mason jar.
Homemade Horchata (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free)
This creamy, smooth, nourishing & healthy beverage is as easy to make as turning on your blender!
1 cup raw cashews (or use raw or blanched almonds)
2/3 cup white rice, uncooked (medium or long-grain preferred)
2 1/2 cups water + 3 cups water
one 3-inch cinnamon stick
2/3 cup granulated sugar, or to taste*
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (increase to 1 teaspoon, or to taste, if you love vanilla)
- In a large blender canister, Vita-Mix canister, or large bowl combine cashews, uncooked rice, 2 1/2 cups warm tap water, cinnamon stick, cover and place in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours.
- Remove canister from the refrigerator, remove the cinnamon stick, and blend the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes on high speed, or until blended as smoothly as possible.
- Add sugar (to taste), vanilla extract, 3 cups more water and blend again for 2 more minutes, or until mixture is as smooth as possible.
- If desired, strain horchata through a sieve or cheesecloth (I did not find it necessary as the cashews blended incredibly smoothly in my Vita-Mix). Serve immediately as is, over ice, or refrigerate and serve chilled, shaking before if mixture has separated. Horchata will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days; use common sense.
- Notes: I used traditional recipes here and here and here as reference for the sugar (and they use more than I did). You may wish to start with 1/3 cup sugar, and increase from there if you prefer something less sweet. You can use another form of sweetener, to taste. All amounts are to taste. If you are serving over ice, it will also water down and become less sweet, something to keep in mind. This is a sweet beverage; it’s not supposed to be “barely sweet”; it’s supposed to be sweet. If you prefer a thinner horchata increase the amount of water, to taste, or strain it. Whatever blender you use, blend, blend, blend. Depending on type of blender used, and taste preferences, strain if desired.
- Ideas: Use over cereal, in oatmeal, in smoothies, make ice cubes with it for iced coffee, bake with it in place of recipes calling for nut or rice milk, use it as coffee creamer, add chocolate sauce for chocolate “milk”, freeze it for 2 hours or until barely frozen for a slushy-ice cream treat; add 1 ounce of Baileys, Kahlua, or Vanilla Vodka, etc. to 4 to 6 ounces of Horchta and ice cubes, shake/stir and serve.
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Another beverage that’s incredibly easy to make is kefir. Three ingredients, let it sit on your countertop for a day while the good bacteria do their work, and serve.
Coconut Milk Kefir (gluten free, vegan)
You could also make smoothies such as a Pineapple Banana and Coconut Cream Smoothie with horchata rather than using coconut milk or another type of milk.